Wedge your clay on a clean canvas or plaster surface. The kneading style of wedging also helps to align the clay particles. After you have fully wedged your clay, about 50 cuts or 50 kneading strokes, shape the clay into a smooth ball or oval.
Before sitting down to the wheel, be sure to place your tools and slurry or water bucket close at hand. I also recommend having a slop bucket close by for trimming scraps and pots that don't make it. Recommended tools are a potter's needle, a 2 x 3 inch piece of chamois, an all-purpose wooden trimming tool, and a cut-off wire.